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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Lori Cranston (Sophie Traub) is a confused fifteen-year-old dreamer in search of an escape from her troubled home life. She discovers and becomes enthralled with Eric (Jon Foster), a young man with a violent past. As they embark on a harrowing journey, a hardened local cop (Russell Crowe), who has been following Eric for years, is intent on exposing him as a serial killer before Lori’s fate is determined.


A troubled girl fixates on a young killer in Tenderness. Eric (Jon Foster, The Informers), imprisoned as a youth after murdering his parents, has just been released. Detective Cristofuoro (Russell Crowe) suspects that Eric is responsible for more killings than anyone knows, but all he can do is keep track of Eric's movements. Teenager Lori (Sophie Traub, Daltry Calhoun), on the other hand, sneaks into Eric's car and finds herself on a road trip with a possible psychopath--but Lori has an agenda of her own that Eric may help her fulfill. Tenderness has some plausibility problems and a pretty glib grasp of the psychology of serial killers, but despite that, the characters are compelling. Crowe coasts through his part, but he's got such a strong presence that even a minimalist performance like this one holds the screen. Traub and Foster both invest themselves thoroughly, and the interplay between them is the movie's strongest asset. Some flashes of David Lynch-esque eeriness provide some thrills, but for the most part this is about two troubled young people trying to help each other cope--one is coping with murderous impulses, but that doesn't make the emotional struggle any less identifiable. Based on the novel by Robert Cormier (The Chocolate War, I Am the Cheese). --Bret Fetzer

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Special Features

Finding Tenderness: Bringing the novel to the screen

Product Details

  • Actors: Russell Crowe, Jon Foster, Sophie Traub, Laura Dern, Alexis Dziena
  • Directors: John Polson
  • Writers: Emil Stern, Robert Cormier
  • Producers: Amanda Harding, Aram Moezinia, Brian Collins, Charles Randolph, Christopher Pia
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: April 13, 2010
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0035JHYGQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,835 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tenderness" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Compay on April 19, 2010
Format: DVD
The first thing to know about Tenderness is that it's a crime drama, not an edge-of-your seat thriller. While it does offer suspense from time to time, don't expect Silence of the Lambs.

What I found most interesting about this movie were the compulsions by the major characters. A self-destructive teen obsessed with a murderer, a young man obsessed with killing girls, and a weary detective obsessed with keeping the young man behind bars.

In the film From Dusk Till Dawn, we get glimpses of compulsions by Tarantino's character. With Eric in Tenderness, those compulsions are amplified. We're able to see the wheels turn in his head whenever opportunities for him to murder present themselves. He battles his inner demons with a sense of confliction so apparent that you can see it in his face. Those feelings, as well as the disturbing vibe of his admirer, make for an interesting movie.

The movie isn't a cult classic, of course. There are a few plot holes, as well as established actors who get only moments of screen time. My only real complaint is that we're given a sense of how disturbed the two lead characters are, but the film never delves into what made them that way. Eric doesn't seem to require state-mandated therapy for chemical imbalances, so the audience never fully understands what motivates him to kill.

If you're looking for an exciting crime drama, this may not be for you. If you're looking for something more in the way of a subtle psychological thriller, Tenderness is better than most Redbox flicks. Rent it once before deciding if you want to buy the DVD.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Pre-Paid Premium Shipping on April 15, 2010
Format: DVD
Don't expect it to make any sense until the end. Even then, it feels like it has holes and filler at the same time.

I felt the plot stretched in too many directions and lacked a clear story. I found the characters interesting but ultimately difficult to "position" in the story. It felt like a mystery, to be honest, because so much of it doesn't make sense, and it was not suspenseful enough to be considered a suspense movie.

Parts of the movie are shown at the end that explain why certain things happened in the beginning. Fine, but I felt I was trying too hard to imagine what the "point" of certain scenes were until the very end. Only at the end does it seem to quickly "wrap up" and the characters' previous actions (what you remember...) make more sense.

I found it interesting to watch, but it lacks coherence.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. Schultz VINE VOICE on January 25, 2011
Format: DVD
This movie is set in motion by the release of a young serial killer from prison. His unabated blood lust, obvious to retired police detective Russell Crowe, drives the early scenes. The compulsive nature of his desire to kill makes for some suspect psychology. I'm not sure that's quite the mindset operating in teenage killers. But if you can suspend disbelief for a while, his predatory appraisal of his surroundings fills this film with the muscular tension of an animal about to spring on you.

The scene showing one of his last days in prison is especially effective. A juvenile from the girl's compound mistakenly wanders into the cafeteria where he's cleaning up, and is caught like a deer in the intense, high-beam gaze of the hungry hunter in him. This silent confrontation of predator and prey is brilliant acting.

When another young girl, a sort of convicted killer groupie, attaches herself to the newly independent boy, the film looks a little as if it's going to be another "Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer" odyssey. We think the question will be if, or how long, this young innocent with misplaced enthusiasms will survive in the company of such a dangerous character.

However the film ultimately doesn't center on the serial killer himself or on the hazard posed by his impulses. It takes a creative turn and focuses on the groupie, whose attachment turns out to spring from more profound motives than we originally suspected.
There is something about her that we can perhaps all identify with. Beneath her casual bubbliness, she is in despair over the always-ness of her life. Her mother always brings home men focused more on her nubile form than on having any sincere relationship with the more mature woman. The world always disappoints her. Such repetitions bring her to her own dangerous brink.

This is a thoughtful movie, with something else to offer - with something more to offer than the rampages of yet another homicidal maniac.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By dv_forever on January 30, 2011
Format: DVD
Russell Crowe plays a cop with no life and a vegetable for a wife. He's obsessed with this young killer who has been released from juveline correction. Jon Foster plays the killer whose emotional life is so damaged he can't connect to human beings in any normal, society approved capacity. Foster's portrayal of his character has an emotional coolness as well as a vulnerability about him, so it's easy to sympathize with him. He resorts back to his ways of thinking and moving around in the world immediately upon gaining his freedom. His aunt, played by Laura Dern, is obviously disturbed to be around him. Foster takes a road trip and meets perhaps the most bizarre character of the film, a young girl played by actress Sophie Traub. She's a strange female character one rarely sees in films like these. Instead of being disturbed by this psychopathic killer, she's in love with him and practically begging to be his victim. Damaged goods they are. Everyone is damaged goods in this film, just like in real life. The story is about taking chances in life as well as getting second chances and still making the same mistakes over and over. It can be depressing but it's honest.

I found the movie involving. It doesn't try to be a conventional thriller or cop on the hunt film. It's obvious that the characters are what's important here and not some cheap thriller elements. The screenplay accomplishes this well and the actors bring their characters to life most vividly. The photography was also well done. Just look at the scene in the woods with Russell Crowe snooping near the abandoned trailer.

The biggest emotion I came away with from this little movie is the title itself, tenderness. The treatment of the tragic nature of this story and it's twisted characters, did not in any way feel exploitive or ham-fisted. It felt tender and remorseful and that's why this small budget, out of the way work will stick in one's memory.
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